The Italian Almanac


Fake Priest

A fake priest scrounged a month`s board and lodging from a hotel in the pope`s summer resort outside Rome, police said. Gunner Martenka, a German-born resident of the northern Italian region of Alto Adige, was reported by a Castel Gandolfo agriturismo after he started drinking heavily.

Martenka arrived in the farm hotel in early July posing as a member of a teutonic order of monks near the German-speaking city of Bolzano. Staff were initially taken in by his manner and his German accent but grew suspicious when he started coming back drunk, the hotelier`s daughter said. ``He told us he was here on holiday but when we realised he was drinking a bit too much we became suspicious,`` she said. ``But then he put on another mask. He told us in tears that he was in a (religious) crisis and was thinking of leaving the priesthood. We decided he needed help so we turned a blind eye. But we called the police when the situation became embarrassing.

Martenka, who reportedly trained as a priest but did not take vows, faces charges of fraud and non-payment of his 650-euro bill.